Why does Australia lag behind the rest of the world in the teaching of typing skills?
Over the past 40 years in Australia we have seen the skill of touch-typing move from being a vocational (secretarial) skill learnt by a few to a key skill for all, in the age of the personal computer. At the same time the intentionality of teaching this critical skill has diminished. In her thesis for her Masters degree 2004, Gwendolyn Alderman comments that, “Touch keyboarding (in Australia) as a vocational skill is disappearing at a time when students and educators across all educational sectors are expected to use a computer keyboard on a regular basis.” The emphasis on the wider implementation of typed text now affects more people. Gwendolyn observes that the education system in the USA and other developed nations mandates the teaching of typing skills, yet in Australia ACARA, the NSW Syllabus and Victorian Curriculum fail to adequately address this issue. As a result, national productivity is being significantly impacted.
Australian educators are now starting to realise that the lack of clarity regarding the imperative for the teaching of typing skills is a serious issue. ACARA has recently added the skill of keyboarding to the Literacy Progressions HwK1 – HwK8. These new sub elements are a big step forward, yet they still don’t match the clarity of the typing requirement in the Common Core State Standardsas used in the USA.
To aid in redressing this lack of awareness, EdAlive has produced a summative listing of the factors combining to elevate the imperative of the teaching of touch-typing skills. EdAlive has now produced a PDF version summarising this imperative.
As the CEO of EdAlive, the publisher of Typing Tournament Online, I am keenly aware that had I not taught myself to touch type on a mechanical type writer in 1984 and then on an Apple II computer I could never have completed the written work that has been integral to the success of EdAlive since 1987. In my professional life I have interacted with many people whose typing speed was low and limited by their poor technique and whose productivity was directly impacted by this lack of skill.
Whether it is mandated by the custodians of our curricula or not, the skill of touch typing is vital to productivity and life. Although not universally recognised there are many educators who agree with us. Typing Tournament Online is used in around 2,000 Australian schools and will shortly pass 600,000,000 words typed – mostly by Aussie kids.
The following Abstract relating to Gwendolyn’s excellent thesis explores the matter more fully. The full thesis is available from the Queensland University of Technology web site.
Happy touch typing!
Graham East October 2019.
BEd (Adult Ed), Cert IV Assessor & Workplace Training, TCert (Typewriting), TCert (Word Processing)
A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education
Touch keyboarding as a vocational skill is disappearing at a time when students and educators across all educational sectors are expected to use a computer keyboard on a regular basis.There is documentation surrounding the embedding of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within the curricula and yet within the National Training Packages touch keyboarding, previously considered a core component, is now an elective in the Business Services framework. This situation is at odds with current practice overseas where touch keyboarding is a component of primary and secondary curricula.From Rhetoric to Practice explores the current issues and practice in teaching and learning touch keyboarding in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Through structured interview participants detailed current practice of teachers and their students. Further, tertiary students participated in a training program aimed at acquiring touch keyboarding as a skill to enhance their studies. The researcher’s background experience of fifteen years teaching touch keyboarding and computer literacy to adults and 30 years in Business Services trade provides a strong basis for this project. The teaching experience is enhanced by industry experience in administration, course coordination in technical, community and tertiary institutions and a strong commitment to the efficient usage of a computer by all. The findings of this project identified coursework expectations requiring all students from kindergarten to tertiary to use a computer keyboard on a weekly basis and that neither teaching nor learning touch keyboarding appears in the primary, secondary and tertiary curricula in New South Wales.Further, teachers recognised touch keyboarding as the preferred style over ‘hunt and peck’ keyboarding while acknowledging the teaching and learning difficulties of time constraints, the need for qualified touch keyboarding teachers and issues arising when retraining students from existing poor habits. In conclusion, this project recommends that computer keyboarding be defined as a writing tool for education, vocation and life. Early instruction should be introduced in early primary school, with the skill of touch keyboarding consolidated at thesecondary, technical and tertiary levels. Finally there is a need to draw the attention of educational authorities to the Duty Of Care aspects associated with computer keyboarding in the classroom.